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Madagascar: Zoo Keeper Confessionals - Time Out New York Kids

Wild-animal keeper Sabrina Squillari gave us the inside scoop on the critters she cares for, so your kiddos can impress pals with their trivia knowledge.

Which Bronx Zoo animals do you take care of?

Mostly primates, which include the lemurs in “Madagascar!” but also gorillas and monkeys, like the ones in Congo Gorilla Forest.

You have a really cool job. How long have you worked at the zoo?
I’ve been working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which created the Bronx Zoo more than a hundred years ago, for seven years. It is a cool job!

What do you feed the lemurs?
Different types of lemurs like different foods, but in the wild they mostly eat fruit and leaves. The ones in the zoo eat a special food called lemur chow, which gives them all the nutrition they need. We also give them fresh fruits and vegetables—they love treats.

What’s the difference between boy and girl lemurs?
Like other animals, males and females have different markings that help us tell them apart. Lemurs are special because the females are almost always dominant—only the collared lemurs are ruled by their males. Among the other varieties, the females are in charge; they always get first dibs on food and the best resting places in the trees.

All that, and they have the babies, too?
Of course it’s the female lemurs that have the kids. Ring-tailed moms are unique because they often have twins; we have a pair of two-year-olds, named Bonnie and Sophie, in the “Madagascar!” exhibit. Red-ruffed lemurs are the only ones that give birth in litters, like dogs and cats do—they have as many as six babies at a time.

What’s that animal that looks like a big brown cat?
That’s a fossa, pronounced “foosh,” and it’s not a cat at all. Fossas are actually related to mongooses, like the ring-tailed mongoose that you’ll also see in the exhibit. In the wild, fossas live among the lemurs—which are their main source of food. But in the zoo, they live in their own habitat and eat other animals such as rats and rabbits.